Entrepreneurs around the world are an example of how well the economy is, how liberating the society is and how all the commerce and trade activities uplift an innovative individual. India being the largest democracy in the world has done a lot for the betterment of entrepreneurs and businessmen present here. The impact of globalization has led to a tremendous rate of growth in all the sectors of the economy. In this article, we will take a look at some of the most successful entrepreneurs in India. Who not only set a benchmark for other aspiring individuals but also motivate and inspire them to do more.
1932 – 2002
Company - Reliance Industries
The story of Dhirubhai Ambani’s life is quite the “rugs-to-riches” one. He was born in a Gujarati family and founded the Reliance Commercial Corporation with the amount of Rs. 15,000 only.
He first started his textile mill and then later diversified into petrochemical and sectors like Telecommunication, IT, Energy, Power, Textile, Retail, Logistics and Capital Market. He was one of the most successful and wealthiest businessman in the world. He always made it to the Forbes billionaires list and was worth $6 billion upon his death on July 6th 2002.
Reliance is one the most profitable companies in India, it was the first Indian company to feature in Forbes 500 list and the 2nd largest publicly traded company in India by market capitalization – which is all his creation. The company ranked 148th on the Fortune Global 500 list of the World’s Biggest Corporations 2018 with a revenue of $62.3 billion. It contributes for approximately 25% of India’s total exports.
Dhirubhai Ambani was named the Indian Entrepreneur of the 20th Century by FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry). Reliance Industries has a current net income of over $5.7 billion and assets amounting to a whopping $140 billion.
Dhirubhai Ambani won Padma Vibhushan award in 2016.
Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata (1904 – 1993)
Popularly known as JRD Tata, was a French born Indian aviator and chairman of Tata Group – his family business. He made Tata Group one of the most valuable and prestigious industrial groups in India, he had a vision ahead of his times. He began his career as an unpaid apprentice in Tata & Sons and with years rose to the position of becoming a Chairman to the company. He became the first person to obtain the first ever issued pilot license in India and later on went to establish India’s first commercial airline – Tata Airlines (later it became Air India). Over the years of his business life, he expanded the Tata Empire – Tata Telecommunications, Tata Tea, Titan Industries, Voltas, Tata Motors, and many more.
In 1992, JRD Tata was honored with the United Nations Population Award for his incessant endeavors towards initiating and prosperously implementing the Family Planning Movement in our country India. The Tata industries currently employ about more than 702,000 people and generates the revenue of $110.7 billion.
Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata won Bharat Ratna in 1992, Padma Vibhushan in 1957.
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Kailash Chandra Mahindra (1894 – 1963)
K.C. Mahindra was born in 1894 in Punjab. He was the second of nine children. At Cambridge, he earned Honours, played hockey, and took a keen interest in rowing.
After graduating, he joined Messrs Martin & Company, where he edited the monthly magazine INDIA and, briefly, the Hindustan Review. In the 1940s, he went into the energy business and helped develop the nation’s coal policy by implementing the latest methods of coal mining.
In 1946, he moved to Bombay to found Mahindra & Mohammed, which became an industrial powerhouse for many sectors of the economy. One of the founders was his elder brother Jagdish Chandra Mahindra and the other one was his close friend Ghulam Mohammad. But after India's partition, Ghulam Muhammad went to Pakistan and the company was renamed as Mahindra and Mahindra.
He was also director of RBI, Air India, Hindustan Steel, and Chairman of the Indian Aluminium Company. If J.C Mahindra was the dreamer then K.C Mahindra was the implementer. K.C Mahindra was known for his micro-approach to everything and was a great executor.
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Govindram Seksaria (1888 – 1946)
Govindram Seksaria was born on October 19, 1888 in Nawalgarh in present-day Rajasthan. Govindram Seksaria was a famous Indian businessman of the Seksaria family. He is famously known as the Cotton King of India. He was among the most successful businessmen of pre-independence India.
When he moved from Nawalgarh to Mumbai (then Bombay) in the early 1900s, India was under the British Raj at the time, and every major industry was either owned or managed by foreign firms that had the full support of the government. For Indian firms and businessmen, survival and growth was difficult and risky under a government that was both unsupportive and unencouraging. It was in such a hostile environment that Govindram Seksaria started his career as an operator on the Bombay Cotton Exchange. Within a few years, the Cotton Contract Board accepted his membership. Later, he became one of the original members of the East India Cotton Association, going on to become a very famous name in the cotton market.
After his success in the cotton market, Govindram diversified and began trading in bullion and other commodities. Under Govindram Brothers Pvt. Ltd., he started a vegetable oil business and soon diversified into sugar, textile, minerals, banking, printing and motion pictures. He also entered into real estate by establishing Estate Investment Co. Ltd. to manage his vast real estate holdings. In banking he founded the Bank of Rajasthan. He also helped in Indian motion picture development through his close association with the Bombay Talkies studio. Seksaria was also a principal donor in the establishment of Bombay Hospital.
Considering the hostile environment for Indians at the time of British Raj; Govindram is nothing short of a pearl in the ocean.
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Bhai Mohan Singh (1917 – 2006)
Bhai Mohan Singh was born at Rawalpindi on the 30th of December in the year 1917. Bhai Mohan Singh is a pioneering figure in India’s pharmaceutical industry.
Bhai Mohan Singh began his business career during the Second World War with a construction business. After the partition of India and Pakistan he settled down in New Delhi. After independence, Singh entered into the money lending business. Ranbaxy was started by his cousins, Ranjit Singh and Gurbax Singh. Bhai Mohan Singh gave loan to the company and bought it when Ranbaxy failed to repay loan. Once Singh took over, he partnered with an Italian pharmaceutical company Lapetit Spa, which he later purchased.
In the 1960s, Singh launched an Indian version of valium called Calmpose and went on to release a series of blockbuster drugs. In early 1970s, he established an R&D facility at Mohali. In 1999, Singh was replaced by his eldest son in a boardroom coup. He along with another son, Analjeet laid the foundation of a new company Max. Singh died in 2006.
Bhai Mohan Singh won the Padma Shri for his civic contributions.
Ghanshyam Das Birla (1894 – 1983)
Ghanshyam Das Birla was born on 10 April 1894 at Pilani village in Jhunjhunu district. Ghanshyam Das Birla, also known as GD Birla, was one of the most prominent Indian businessmen from his decade which was during the time of India’s struggle to Independence from British Empire. He was a very close associate of Mahatma Gandhi and used to advise him on economic matters. He laid the foundations of the Birla Empire and was also the founder of the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
He started a Birla Jute Mills in Calcutta and got success during World War I, which was impossible for an Indian businessman to achieve in those harsh times. In 1919, his business also included significant paper and sugar production. He expanded his empire into manufacturing, tea business, banking, chemical, cement, and more. It was the reason behind the huge success of Birla Empire.
Along with his business activities, G.D. Birla is remembered for founding several educational institutions including the Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences (BITS), Pilani, which ranks in the forefront of engineering institutions in the country.
Birla won the Padma Vibhushan in 1957 by the Government of India.
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Jamsetji Tata (1839 – 1904)
Jamsetji Tata is the founder of the Tata Group, India's largest conglomerate which employs more than four lakh people and enjoys the revenue of over $83 billion. Tata is regarded as the legendary "Father of Indian Industry".
Tata, who in his early life was a merchant, went on to change the business world of India through his many ventures within the cotton and pig iron industry, and is known as one of the most important builders of the modern Indian economy. Out of his many achievement, Tata is notable for the Tata Iron and Steel Works company in Jamshedpur.
He is the founder of the Taj Mahal hotel, near the Gateway of India close to the Mumbai shoreline. According to legend, he wanted to build a world-class hotel because he was denied entry to a luxury hotel when he was visiting another country. Now, the Taj Mahal hotel is one of the most renowned in the world.
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Verghese Kurien (1921 – 2012)
Dr. Verghese Kurien was born on November 26, 1921 to an affluent Syrian Christian family in Calicut (now Kozhikode), Kerala. Verghese Kurien used his entrepreneurial skills to enrich not only himself but also all of India. The “Father of the White Revolution,” Kurien planned and implemented Operation Flood, the world’s largest agricultural development program, which turned India into the world’s largest milk producer. He helped make dairy farming a self-sufficient and sustaining industry. Dr. Kurien always regarded himself as an employee of the farmers who would do anything to bring prosperity in their favor.
Kurien is also the founder of the Amul brand of dairy products, which invented milk powder processed from buffalo milk rather than cow milk. One of the world’s strongest proponents of cooperative movements, his work has lifted millions of Indians out of poverty. Under his inspiring leadership many important institutions were established namely the GCMMF (Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd) and NDDB (National Dairy Development board which played a significant role in shaping the Dairy Cooperative movement across the country and led the replication of Anand model of cooperative dairy practiced all over the country.
His birth anniversary is now celebrated as National Milk Day in respect of his great achievements. Verghese Kurien won Padma Shri (1965), Padma Bhushan (1966), Krishi Ratna Award (1986), World Food prize (1989), Padma Vibhushan (1999).
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Walchand Hirachand Doshi (1882 – 1953)
Walchand Hirachand didn't belong to a wealthy family. His father was a small-time money lender but he had set his ambition on something bigger. He dreamt big and made that happen.
Simple living and big thinking were Walchand's foremost traits.
Indian industrialist and the founder of the Walchand group, he established India's first modern shipyard, first aircraft factory and first car factory; he also established construction companies, sugarcane plantations, sugar factories, confectioneries, engineering companies and many other businesses.
The original firm found it difficult to get large projects because of its small size so he decided it to merge with the Tata group. Walchand directed and oversaw some of the biggest construction projects of the pre-independence era. The construction company he founded was later named Premier Construction, with a major stake owned by Tata.
In his later years, he went on to start a shipping company, the Scindia Steam Navigation Company which went on to grab 21% of the Indian coastal traffic. He then went on to found the first Indian aircraft company, the Hindustan Aircraft, first modern shipyard, known as Hindustan Shipyard Limited, and finally, the first car manufacturing plant, Premier Automobiles.
Walchand along with Annie Besant and M. R. Jayakar together were the first sponsors of pioneering national news agency, the Free Press of India founded in 1927.
Ardeshir Godrej (1868 – 1936)
Aedeshir Burjorji Sorabji Godrej was an Indian businessman and co-founder of the Godrej Group. The Gootherajee's were a wealthy Parsi-Zoroastrian family of Bombay (now Mumbai), and Ardeshir's father Burjorji and grandfather Sorabji dealt in real estate. In January 1871, his father had the family name changed to Godrej. He laid the foundation of a billion dollar empire that was made in India in the colonial times.
With 3,000 Rupees ($1500 US in 1895) from Cama, Ardeshir began manufacturing scalpels, forceps, pincers, scissors and the other implements of a surgeon's trade. Then, he started his lock-making venture in 1897 and then expanded to vegetable based soaps and then went on to become one of the most valuable companies in India. His efforts towards the process improvement led the progress and growth of the Godrej Group.
The Godrej Family now controls the $4.5 billion revenue generating group which is a 121 year old consumer goods giant.
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Some entrepreneurs on the above list are especially inspiring because they managed to make their fortune during British rule when the environment was not so friendly for Indian business. The ones who succeeded in that environment went the extra mile to succeed. This list will give you a broad outline of the amazing journey of some of these tycoons.